Alexa Wilding

Dante Gabriel Rossetti

General Description

Date: 1866
Model: Alexa Wilding


◦ Fredeman, Correspondence VI, 605-45

◦ Grylls, Portrait of Rossetti (1964)

◦ Marsh, The Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood (1985)

◦ Surtees, Catalogue Raisonné, vol. I, 200, (no. 530).

◦ Simon Toll, “Dante Gabriel Rossetti's Discovery of Alexa Wilding”, in British Art Journal VII, 87-91

Scholarly Commentary


DGR discovered Alexa (Alice) Wilding by chance when he was walking to the Arundel Club one day in the spring of 1865. Seeing her walking next to him, he was struck with her beauty and asked her on the spot to sit for him as a model. She said she would do it if her mother consented. Shortly afterwards, she wrote that her mother agreed. They made an appointment but--much to DGR's disappointment--she did not keep it. Some few months later he saw her again by chance in the street, stopped her, and offered her generous terms if she would sit for him (Surtees, Catalogue Raisonné, 200). She agreed and gave up her dressmaking job. DGR retained her at a pound per week to sit for him whenever he asked.

Grylls has some acute comments on how Wilding made such a good model for DGR's later work: she had “a lovely face, beautifully moulded in every feature, full of quiescent, soft, mystical repose. . . . She sat like the Sphinx waiting to be questioned and with always a vague reply in return” (Grylls, 114).

Wilding became one of DGR's favored models and sat for some of his most famous pictures, including Monna Vanna and The Blessed Damozel. Besides the studies he made for such major oil works, DGR executed at least seven separate drawings of her between 1866 and 1873.

Electronic Archive Edition: 1
Source File: s530.raw.xml